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What's That, Fr. Matt?

Decluttering

Posted by Fr. Matt Oprendek on with 1 Comments

Do you have one of these anywhere?  It’s a pile of papers that need to be reviewed, sorted, and either filed or discarded.  I’ll confess that I’m predisposed to collecting these piles.  In effort to be “helpful,” someone in my house occasionally merges them into one giant pile.  At some point, you just have to plough through it.  If you don’t, the piles can overwhelm and take over whatever flat surface is available in your home.  (I’m speaking from experience!)   

So the slower days of summer are a perfect time to figure out what’s worth keeping and what is not.  They call it decluttering.  And it turns out, my heart and mind are no different from my desktop.  

More often than not, I’m keeping things on my “mental desktop” that need to be thrown away.  Thoughts like, “Gosh, I hope they aren’t judging me about X.”  That’s fear.  “How could she do that to me?” That’s resentment.  “How am I going to handle what’s coming next?” That’s worry.

They sit there, unsorted, unexamined, undisturbed.  And just like those papers, they can start to pile up.  Before you know it, my mental landscape can become FILLED with so much fear, negativity, and worry that there’s not room for anything else.  

For me, I de-clutter my heart with prayer.  I take a look at each thing that’s sending a panic signal to my brain, and I present it to God.  

“Lord, help me to rest in the fact that I’m loved — even while I’m imperfect.”  I give up my fear in exchange for love.  

“Lord, please help me to forgive her; I know I’ve been forgiven for so much more.”  I give up my resentment in exchange for peace.  

“God, please help me to trust that you’ll give the tools and resources to handle whatever comes my way.”  I give up my worry in exchange for trust.

Sometimes I have to do it several times a day.  I think I’ve given it up to God, and then I discover, “Huh! I’ve picked it up again.”  Some habits die hard.  So I gently go back to looking it over, presenting it to God, and remembering what’s true about God, about me, and about the world in which we live.  Scripture helps with that too.  

With some resentments or worries, I have to unpack these things with people I know and trust.  My spiritual director, a good friend, or perhaps even, a professional therapist.  I ask things like, “Could you help me understand why this issue makes my heart pound so hard?  Why do you think this person gets me so energized?  I wonder what is really going on inside of me?  I wonder what needs to change inside of me?”

Decluttering takes a little effort — but boy, it is worth the investment.   Once I’ve sorted it out, I always feel SO much better!  My heart becomes available to be more loving and compassionate towards others.  I have a greater ability to notice blessings; I become more grateful.  Being more relaxed, I enjoy the gift of wonder and start to say, “That is amazing!”   It’s almost like you could say, “The truth has set me free.” 

I think I’ve heard that somewhere before.

Comments

Mimi August 20, 2016 5:02pm

Absolutely perfect
Once again you have spoken as if you were in my head. I have a very cluttered brain and it is definitely time to de clutter it. It will make so
Much more
Peaceful thank you

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